Shahla Safi Zamir, better known by her stage name Marjan, died aged 71 in a Los Angeles hospital on June 6, the Boston Globe reported. (Shutterstock/Khakimullin Aleksandr)
The death this month of exiled Iranian actress and singer Marjan has sparked controversy in her home country, with conservative pressure forcing some famous Iranians to retract their condolences.
Shahla Safi Zamir, better known by her stage name Marjan, died aged 71 in a Los Angeles hospital on June 6, the Boston Globe reported, citing a statement by outlawed opposition group The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
After starting her career in Iranian cinema, Marjan became a pop singer, famous for her disco hit "Kavire Del" (Desert of the Heart", before the Islamic Revolution of 1979 halted her career.
Several celebrities in Iran paid homage to her, including film director Tahmineh Milani who offered condolences "to the daughter and family of Marjan".
Popular ex-footballer Ali Karimi published a Marjan song on his Instagram page.
These messages were aggressively attacked by ultraconservatives like Raja News website, which published an article accusing celebrities of encouraging people "to admire hypocrites" or Monafeghin in Persian.
Monafeghin is a term Iran uses to refer to the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, an exiled opposition group it considers a "terrorist" cult led by Maryam Rajavi.
Rajavi, who is also head of the NCRI, paid her respects to Marjan and her "songs of freedom".
She also claimed that the actress had joined the People's Mujahedin after "long and painful years of incarceration" in Iran.
Following the attacks by ultra-conservatives, several of the targeted personalities accused the People's Mujahedin of appropriating their condolences for propaganda purposes.
The condolences were not "proof of any political alignment with Rajavi's positions," Milani said on Instagram.
The director, who is also a feminist activist, said she was unaware Marjan was sympathetic to the People's Mujahedin.
"I have never been member to any party," actor Ashkan Khatibi wrote on Instagram, accusing the People's Mujahedin of exploiting the condolences of artists. "Shame on you," he wrote.
On Sunday, the ultra-conservative newspaper Kayhan wrote that it regretted that "censorship" prevented Iranian media from reporting on these messages of "condemnation" of the People's Mujahedin.
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